Plant of Death??
I accidentally posted this in Saltwater forums a little while ago, so I'm going to repost here:
"I have one of the plants that is in the center of the picture on this website:
PETCO Fluorescent Aquarium Plants at PETCO
Occasionally, I would find dead fish in there and it was a real nuisance to clean out, but I assumed it was a comforting place for them to go hide or whatever when they were near death. However, today I was cleaning the tank and noticed yet another dead one. I pulled the plant out and left the room to pour some fresh water to refill the tank with. When I came back, the plant was wriggling! I quickly dumped the neon tetra back into the tank and he has been swimming around fine.
So now I know that for some reason, this plant is luring fish to their deaths. Obviously I've removed the offender, but I wanted to know if anyone had some insight. What do you think could cause this? Does the fluorescence attract them when it becomes dark outside? Or is it possible that they don't have enough room to swim freely and become entangled? Or is it simply the wrong shaped plant for the wrong fish? No matter the cause, I won't be putting it back into this aquarium setup. But it would be nice to get some opinions on the root problem so that I could avoid it with similar plants in future setups.
Thanks in advance!"
I was then asked for some clarification, so I'll address those concerns below. willow posted that it is not likely my plant that is the problem.
My tank is only 2 gallons (can't keep anything bigger in my apartment).
It has been set up for a little over a month now, with Glow Light and Neon Tetras (the Glow Lights were the first fish I bought and then replaced by Neons as they died during the cycling).
As of yesterday, all my chemical balances were good. Ammonia was a little high (.5 whatever the units are), but I've come to expect that whenever I get my water tested (because I get it tested before I do a water change) and I put in ammonia neutralizers and perform water changes to keep it down.
How many neons do you have?
Most people wouldnt recommend keeping neons in such a small tank, as they are very sensitive to water fluctuations. They, like all tetras, are schooling fish and you should really keep them in groups of minimum of about 6. Smaller tanks are VERY prone to large fluctuations because there is less liquid, so ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites can build up very quickly. Like everyone says here, bigger is better in the aquarium world, less room for error.
I'm surprised that your neon is still alive considering the ammonia is at .5 ppm (what i'm assume the units are).
Do you have a heater, filter? If so what kinds.
I would suggest getting a betta instead for your 2 gallon tank.
Just 3 in there, and I keep a close eye on the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate--getting the water regularly tested. I completely agree that a bigger tank would be much better, but thats just not possible for me now. Still, even though its a small tank with small (cheap) fish, I want to do it right. Any suggestions on why a fish would get stuck in this plant? It looked completely dead, but has had no problems at all since I shook it out of the plant and removed the plant from the tank.
To answer your questions though, I have no fish tank heater. I check the temperature several times a day and use a space heater to warm the tank if I need to. The filter is pretty pathetic, but it seems to do the job. I've seen it called an "undergravel filter". I don't know if that phrase means anything to the aquarium world, but it seems to pull water down through the gravel with a low suction. I was skeptical, but it keeps the tank clean. I've found that the ammonia has to be balanced with neutralizers though since this filter isnt very effective for that.
Even in a tank of that size, you should be able to cycle it. In other words, you should be able to build sufficient bacteria colonies to handle the bioload of the three neons. I would suggest doing water changes whenever you get a reading for ammonia until the tank is properly cycled.
As for the plant, my only thought is that due to stress (perhaps from the ammonia, from the small tank size, from the temperature fluctuations, from having too few neons in the school, etc.) is causing the fish to seek the security of a plant. The fish might wedge themselves in there as a real plant could easily be escaped but instead they just get stuck in there. A common adage goes, "the more cover your fish have, the less they'll use it." If you had more decor and plants in the tank, the fish might feel more comfortable and less inclined to hide. Addressing some of their other stressors would likely also be beneficial.
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